John McCain Kills Obamacare Repeal With Single Decisive Vote
In the end it was not meant to be: Senate Republicans failed, by a single vote, to pass a month-long effort to pass Republican healthcare legislation culminating with a vote on a "skinny" bill to repeal Obamacare thanks to a single decisive vote by Donald Trump's nemesis, John McCain.
In a devastating blow to President Trump and his healthcare agenda, Senate Republicans voted 49 to 51 to pass a slimmed down bill put forward as a last gasp effort to overhaul the US healthcare system, leaving the fate of Obamacare in the hands of Democrats and the general public.
Voting shortly after midnight, John McCain – who returned to the Senate on Tuesday after undergoing emergency surgery related to brain cancer – joined known repeal holdouts, GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) in opposing Health Care Freedom Act, HR 1628, the pared-down measure that would have repealed key parts of ObamaCare. Ironically, McCain cast the "no" vote two days after a dramatic return to the Senate floor during which he called on his colleagues to work together on major issues such as healthcare reform, which has long been a Senate tradition until the upsurge of partisanship in recent years.
McCain’s vote stunned many Republicans including Sen. Bill Cassidy (La.), who said he thought the Arizona Republican was in favor of the legislation. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told reporters, “I’m shocked at this.”
Vice President Pence was spotted lobbying McCain on the Senate floor shortly before the crucial vote. He also worked on Collins while other GOP leaders focused on Murkowski.
But those efforts fell short, as in the end it was personal for McCain, who emerged this year as one of President Trump’s most outspoken critics in Congress and the late-night healthcare vote cements his status as a maverick, a role he relished earlier in his career when President George W. Bush occupied the White House.
Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) said McCain was wrestling with the decision all day but in the end would not budge. “He had made up his mind and I’m not sure there was much that could have been done about it,” he said.
McCain declined to “go through my thought process” when reporters asked him about his vote. Moments later, when asked why he voted no, McCain responded "Because I thought it was the right vote."